The Power of Endorphins

May 13, 2016 12:37:18 PM

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Just for fun, we thought we’d talk a bit about endorphins to help kick your weekend off right. 

Our brains naturally produce endorphins, also known as “happy chemicals.” These important neurotransmitters help us deal with pain and stress. When our brains release endorphins into our bodies— during or after strenuous exercise, eating spicy foods, listening to music, falling in love— we experience feelings of joy, peace and being “in the flow” of life. 

Here are 6 ways endorphins help improve our lives:

1. Natural-born pain killers: Endorphins block pain receptors in our brain to help us effectively reduce and manage body pain. For example, patients show higher levels of endorphins post surgery as part of their body’s built-in pain response.

2. Effective antidepressants:  Endorphins positively impact our moods and play a significant role in keeping anxiety and depression at bay. We’ve all heard of a “runner’s high” or that euphoric feeling we have after a good workout— this is just another way  regular exercise helps support our mental health. 

3. Sleep enhancers: The word “endorphins” comes from “endogenou” (from within) and “morphine” (a pain-killer). Morphine is derived from Morpheus, the Greek god of sleep. Endorphins have a calming effect on out bodies and brains and help us sleep more deeply so we feel rested when we wake up.

4. Self-esteem boosters:  By reducing pain and fear, endorphins help us feel good about ourselves and the world around us. Laughter in particular is a quick, easy way to raise endorphin levels and improve our outlook. Endorphins can also encourage us to form healthy exercise and eating habits by making us want to recreate those feel-good vibes. 

5. Blood pressure stabilizers: Anything that helps reduce stress is a big win for our blood pressure. Laughing, exercising, sex, exploring a beautiful place, getting a massage and connecting with good friends all create endorphins and lead to feelings of happiness and contentment. Endorphins also have a calming effect on our nervous and endocrine systems, which are responsible for regulating blood pressure.

6. Immune system strengtheners: Most immune cells have endorphin receptors and rely on endorphins to function properly. Endorphins stimulate the immune system by activating white blood cells to help protect us against disease and infection. Some studies suggest people with chronic illness may suffer from low endorphins.

Less pain and depression, better sleep, higher self-esteem, lower blood pressure and improved immune function, all from one, tiny naturally made brain chemical? You betcha. Here’s to the power of endorphins!